The circumstances under which refugees flee their country and move seeking protection, many times lead to separation of family members. Sometimes family members flee together but separate during their journey. Other times flee their country in different times. In these cases refugees follow the family reunification procedure under the Dublin Regulation.
Offering free legal assistance to asylum seekers asking for family reunification under the Dublin Regulation is a main activity for AITIMA. Many asylum seekers who come to Greece have already a family member in another EU member state, and under Dublin regulation they are entitled to have their asylum case examined by this member-state. As the procedure is very demanding and time-lenghty, asylum seekers have to adapt to the frequently changing practices of the other states, which makes legal assistance necessary both for the documentation of the take-charge request and in the event of rejection.
Since 2011 our organization has worked on a very big number of family reunification cases. Only during the last two years we have assisted over than 600 families. Among the family members we have assisted there were 67 unaccompanied minors, one of which was only 4 years old.
Obviously, the whole procedure is very emotional for the asylum seekers. The impatience during the waiting period gives its place to joy as the day of the transfer to the other state and the reunification with their loved-ones comes closer. Each time that our beneficiaries come to thank us and say goodbye, we experience very moving moments in our office. These moments give us a lot of satisfaction as well as great motivation to continue our work.
In the context of this activity we co-operate with the Greek Dublin Unit, which is the competent authority, we contact other civil society organizations in Greece and other member-states, we daily inform our beneficiaries about the procedure as well as for their rights, we take care of the full documentation of their files and we try hard so that the of the procedure would come as soon as possible
The big importance of family reunification for asylum seekers is obvious. In order that their family reunification application would be accepted, it is very important for us to have close co-operation with other civil society organizations in Greece and other member-states which handle the cases of family members. Therefore we are looking forward to strengthening our co-operation with other organizations, also through joint projects. Given that the implementation of such projects needs financial resources we also appeal to funding institutions to assist us in this work.

   

On 31.10.2019 a new law on asylum was passed from the Greek Parliament. The draft law published a few days ago, which was passed with some minor changes, received heavy criticism from UNHCR, the National Commission for Human Rights, the Ombudsman and human-rights organizations. According to them many provisions of the law are dangerous for the rights of asylum seekers.
 
Read comments on the law in the following links:
 
  • Offering assistance to asylum seekers in order to get international protection.
  • Offering assistance in family reunification cases

The project is implemented in partnership with the Danish Refugee Council which is funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department.

http://ec.europa.eu/echo/

  

STATES OF EXCEPTION NOT APPROPRIATE FOR GREECE

By Spyros Rizakos*

We were very sad to hear about the loss of life of an unaccompanied minor refugee in Moria, Lesvos, Reception and Identification Center .

According to the local Police, another minor who was in a state of frenzy attacked him over trivial matters and injured him fatally.

For those of us who follow refugee issues and know the conditions created in the Greek islands since 2016 due to the implementation of EU-Turkey Statement, namely the containment of refugees in deplorable conditions, such tragic incidents are- regrettably- of no surprise. The conditions of containment and crowding as well as the subsequent lack of  adequate individual approach and treatment of people who have already experienced traumatic situations, constitute a gross violation of their rights and can also lead to extreme situations. This is one of the reasons why we have opposed the implementation of EU-Turkey Statement in the first place.

The previous government -rightly- received heavy criticism over the deplorable conditions in Moria and other Reception and Identification Centers. The political party forming the current government was among those who expressed such criticism.

Moreover, the new Deputy Minister responsible for Migration Policy during the first days in office-promptly - pointed out that our country should solve the problem of adequate accommodation for unaccompanied minors in open reception centers.

However, despite the tragic event in Moria and although the situation in this Reception and Identification Center is currently out of control with over 9,000 refugees including over 600 unaccompanied minors, so far there has been no announcement from the Ministry of Citizen Protection, which has been allocated the responsibility of these Centers, as to whether there will be steps to address the problems, as it has also been called for by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

We therefore expect solutions based on national, EU and international law which safeguard the rights and dignity of refugees.

States of exception such as the situation at Reception and Identification Centers are not appropriate for our country.

*Spyros Rizakos is a lawyer and sociologist and Head of NGO Aitima.